Exodus 21:1 – 23:9….Remember back in chapter 18, we saw that Moses was judging and instructing people day and night concerning interpersonal situations in their camps? And then Jethro advised Moses to set up an ethical responsible organization of men by family tribes to settle disagreements? Remember, all these people had been slaves, controlled and governed by Egypt according to their leaders, laws, and customs. They had no idea how to govern themselves, especially in God’s righteous laws and ways. This was all new to them. Plus, they were also complainers.
So, here God is setting standards to help guide this new group of men judges and to teach His people how to live His way. They are accustomed to living the Egyptian lifestyle, so some of these standards will sound strange to us. We just will not run into some of those situations in our American culture or laws. But, this is where they needed to start. These instructions are specific to the Israelites for where they are right now (verse 1), yet would still be constant I a similar culture…and all consistent with the 10 basic moral commandments. God and His Word never change…He is absolute truth.,
If you were to take time to study all of these judgements, you would find they hold true to God’s truth, His right and just way of thinking, and His right behaving/doing/ways. It is a starting place in relationships, responsibilities, accountability, as well as how to judge fairly when things go wrong….as in personal injury, property rights and property loss, finance, worship, disobedience to the standards of morality in the 10 commandments.
They reflect principles and pattern….like rest and freedom in the 7th year. There are principles of faithfulness, love, marriage, forgiveness, redemption, etc. in relationships. God defines some specifics when the 10 commandments are broken. I especially notice that in verses 22-25, God considers the child in the womb as human life….and if it is harmed while in the womb whoever injured must pay the same as the loss. Were we held to that today, the abortionist and the pregnant woman would need to pay back with their life (death penalty) for taking the life of the child! Now that would quickly put and end to abortions!
What also occurs to me is that these are the judgements when a case is presented to the elder leader judges. So, for example in Exodus 21:17, when a rebellious and disobedient child is brought before the judges with the knowledge that if proven guilty, the child will be stoned…that will make parents think seriously before bringing their child before the judge! They may decide to not complain and just handle correction and discipline at home….unless the situation has become desperate and dangerous (verse 15).
I am sure there is much more to be gleaned from these verses. Study as you choose and are led by the Holy Spirit. I am sure you will learn something about the wisdom of God.